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Genre: Friendship

Friday, November 4, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Heartless

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Blog Tour, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Blog Tour Review: HeartlessHeartless by Marissa Meyer
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 8th 2016
Genres: Emotions & Feelings, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Family, Fantasy, Friendship, Love & Romance, Magic, Politics & Intrigue, Romance, Royalty, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
Setting: Wonderland
four-stars

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.
Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Also by this author: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Winter

First Line(s): Three luscious lemon tarts glistened up at Catherine.

First things first…there are FOUR days until HEARTLESS!

Can you believe it?!? The wait is almost over!

excited-baby

We all know the story of Alice in Wonderland even if we’ve never read the book by Lewis Carroll we at least know the Disney version about a plucky girl who falls down a rabbit hole and goes on a most extraordinary adventure. There are songs and shenanigans and run ins with the evil Queen of Hearts. When you watch the movie or read the book the Queen is always cast as a villainous character and as a viewer its easy to sympathize with Alice and cheer her triumphs. But you don’t always think about why the Queen is so evil or that maybe Alice isn’t as nice as you originally think. We grow up conditioned to think about fairy tales in a certain way that it can be a bit shocking to see alternate versions of the stories we love. We see this in the stories of Gregory McGuire and on the show Once Upon a Time and now here, in HEARTLESS by Marissa Meyer we get to see a new side to the Queen of Hearts. Not only does HEARTLESS make you think differently about a story you thought you knew but its also a bit of a unicorn in the world of fantasy books in that it is a standalone book.

lurking

HEARTLESS is a story that will suck you in from the start. This book is such a different sort of story from Meyer’s series, The Lunar Chronicles and yet you still get her signature writing style and her ability to spin a beautiful story. HEARTLESS is not a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, its a prequel. Its a story that came about because Meyer’s asked the question why is the queen so evil? Was she born this way or did something happen to make her this way. Catherine (aka the Queen) is a girl much like the readers of the book she has hopes and dreams and a love for baking that will make a reader’s mouth water throughout this book. She’s of a noble family but she dreams of opening a bakery with her friend and maid.

cupcake

But we all know that’s not how the story ended up and I loved Meyer’s take on the story. I love the characters that she created and how she incorporated some old friends. It was a wonderful mix of original and new and told in a way that I think would make Lewis Carroll proud. HEARTLESS is a book that will suck you in with its whimsy and you’ll fall in love with Cath. You’ll turn the pages hoping against hope that somehow the ending of this story will be different and that Cath will get her bakery and her happily ever after. You’ll hope that in the end you’ll learn that the Queen of Hearts is a different girl altogether. But not all stories have a happy ending and sometimes your heart has to break. And boy does Meyer’s play with your heart but everything that happens needs to happen and despite the lack of a HEA its still possible to love this book. In fact, its kind of hard not to like this story and I highly recommend it.

broken-heart

irishdarkblue

JOIN THE #HEARTLESSCOUNTDOWN!

Join Fierce Reads in celebrating all things Heartless by Marissa Meyer! Starting Monday, September 19, they’ll be counting down to on sale with daily challenges where you can show your love and excitement, AND where you’ll have the chance to win a special edition advance copy of Heartless and MORE every single day.

Enter for your chance to win each day from September 19 – November 8 on Twitter or Instagram using #HeartlessCountdown and #Sweepstakes.

Fierce Reads will be posting weekly challenge updates and adding more links and information for some challenges as we get closer. Click here to take a look at the schedule and join in the excitement!

four-stars
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Monday, September 5, 2016

Review: Game On by Michelle Smith

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Game On by Michelle SmithGame On by Michelle Smith
Series: Lewis Creek, Book 2
Also in this series: Play On
Published by Bloomsbury on 16 August 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 328
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Play On

Place(s) Traveled To: Lewis Creek, South Carolina // Sommerville, South Carolina // Beaufort, South Carolina

First Line(s): It’s probably a bad sign when the hangover hits you before you even leave the party.

GAME ON by Michelle Smith is a companion to her debut story PLAY ON (my review) and that is where we first meet Eric. Eric is an underclassman on the baseball team and in this book he moves up to be the starting pitcher. Bringing with it all the pressures that anyone from a small town can understand. Sports is life in many small towns (and even some big ones) and adults are way too involved and get way too emotionally invested. These pressures only compound the issues that Eric is already dealing with as a preachers kid, a newly out gay older brother and his past as a player and a screw up. Eric is trying to make a new start in order to live up to all of his expectations but he keeps making poor choices and getting into trouble. It also doesn’t help that he has a bit of a drinking problem and a temper which lands him into more trouble than he needs.

Enter Bri, the girl next door. Bri and Eric used to be friends and then they drifted apart.  Eric has always had a thing for Bri but has always thought that he was too much of a screw up and not good enough for her. So you can imagine all the angst that the boy goes through over the course of GAME ON as Bri and Eric begin to reconnect. For Bri is dealing with a douche of an ex along with some abandonment issues which could have lead her to being a troubled teen. However, Bri is smart and has a good head on her shoulders and she becomes the rock that Eric needs to really get his life back on track. Through Eric, Bri also learns to deal with some of her issues and learns that she isn’t alone in the world. That there are people who will fight for her and beside her depending on what the situation calls for.

Game On quote3

GAME ON is a quick read and had everything I like to see in a contemporary young adult book. There was angst but not a ton of it and there were lots of heart achy feels throughout Bri and Eric’s journey. I loved their chemistry and I loved how Smith dealt with their issues and brought them together. It was realistic and emotional and had me flipping the pages quickly to see how it would all end. GAME ON isn’t a perfect read and there were things that I didn’t like but those flaws were small compared to all the things that I liked about this book. I like a book that can keep me entertained and invested even while there are things I disagree with or that I would do differently. But the things that happened all felt real to the characters and that is what matters most.

I enjoyed returning to the town of Lewis Creek with GAME ON and I hope that this isn’t the last time that we see this world or these characters. I like this group of teens and think that there are plenty of stories that could be told much like Miranda Kenneally does with her Hundred Oaks series. If you are looking for a fun, realistic read to keep you company then look no further than GAME ON. This book is great for the beach, a plane ride, or for sitting under a blanket on a snowy winters day. This is a must read for YA Contemporary lovers. I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Game On

Add Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein to Goodreads. (Review coming soon.)

Add The Distance from A to Z to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Audio Review: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: Tell Me Three Things by Julie BuxbaumTell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
Published by Listening Library on 05 April 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Length: 8 hrs and 54 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Los Angeles, California // Chicago, Illinois

First Line(s): Seven hundred and thirty-three days after my mom died, forty-five days after my dad eloped with a stranger he met on the Internet, thirty days after we then up and moved to California, and only seven days after starting as a junior at a brand-new school where I know approximately no one, an email arrives.

Dear Reader,

Let me tell you three things:

1) There aren’t enough words to in the universe to tell you how much I loved Juile Buxbaum’s TELL ME THREE THINGS

2) This is a book that I’ll re-read over and over and over again

3) If I learn that you haven’t read this book then expect me to bully you to do so because I know your life will be forever made better as a result.

I promise you dear reader, TELL ME THREE THINGS, is a super duper wonderful book. This book hit all the right notes for me and I just loved every word. I just love the trope that was used in this book, with the secret correspondence and I was so super happy when my guess on who Somebody/Nobody was proved correct. The ending of TELL ME THREE THINGS gave me all those wonderful heart achy feels that I love and if I hadn’t been listening to the audio on my phone I totally would have hugged this book when I finished it.

The narrator of TELL ME THREE THINGS, Jorjeana Marie, was a new voice for me (or at least I don’t recall the name) and I thought that she did a wonderful job in bringing Jessie and all these various characters to life. My only real complaint was in the reading of IMs and emails as they are often more of a visual thing and easier read in print than heard over audio. So there are parts of me that wish I’d read this book but then there is a bigger part of me that listened to the story as I did love Jorjeana Mareie’s style. She did a great job with not just Jessie but all the characters and I never had an issue telling who was who. She also had a great pacing and delivery so it was easy to get lost in the story. Well, as lost as one can get while still paying attention while driving!!

Tell Me Three Things Quote

My one big complaint with TELL ME THREE THINGS and what prevents me from giving the book 5 stars was the complete personality transplant of one of the characters. Its something that seemed to come out of no where and I kind of go whiplash from the whole thing. I can understand where said character was coming from but right up until the explosion it was all systems go lets act how we’ve always been acting. I get that sometimes people do bottle things up inside but even there there are still usually some clues that there is a rift brewing. I just think that overall the whole could have been handled better so that it meshed better with the story. Because as it was it just seemed forced and manufactured – drama for the sake of drama – and there really was no need for the drama.

Overall though, TELL ME THREE THINGS was a delightful story and I hated for it to end. Its a book that I wish I could read again for the first time and one that I know will have a forever home on my shelf. Its full of real, flawed, and yet perfect characters that I would want to be friends with . (You know if they were real and I had to relive those pesky teen years over again.) TELL ME THREE THINGS is a well written and well plotted story and I hated to stop listening each day. Its a book to get lost in and one that I can’t recommend enough. Seriously, if you haven’t read this book you go forth and one click it now!! Like for reals….NOW!!

you're welcome

irishdarkblue

IR - Tell Me Three Things

 

Add P.S. I Like You by Kasie West to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett to Goodreads.

four-stars
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Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia QuinnBecause of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
Series: Rokesbys,
Published by Avon on 29 March 2016
Genres: Adult, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Historical, Historical Romance, Love & Romance, Social Issues
Pages: 375
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Kent, England // London, England (1779)

First Line(s): It wasn’t that Billie Bridgerton was lacking in common sense.

I’ve always been a fan of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series of books so I was excited to see that she was writing a prequel (of sorts) that goes back in time to visit Billie Bridgerton, who is the infamous Edmund’s quirky older sister. In BECAUSE OF MISS BRIDGERTON, Edmund is just a teenager, away at school but through Billie we see that the quirks of the Bridgerton clan are a long ingrained thing and as a reader I wouldn’t have it any other way. Billie’s hero is her long suffering neighbor, George Rokesby, who is heir to an Earldom and the older brother of Edward and Andrew (AKA Billie’s partners in crime.) BECAUSE OF MISS BRIDGERTON is a total opposites attract story and I loved every single moment of it.

I just loved the banter between not just George and Billie but with all of the characters. It was real and funny and just helped me to whiz through the pages. I loved how Andrew took great delight in baiting George and Billie because he realized (as did most others) just how perfect they’d be for each other long before they came to that conclusion. Andrew is definitely a character that I adored and I can not wait to read his story! The chemistry between George and Billie leaps off the page and I loved watching journey as they got to know each other and fell in love. It wasn’t an easy journey, because Bridgerton stubbornness and the pride of an English lord but for the reader it was a fun one.

Because of Miss Bridgerton Quote

 

I found that I flew through the pages of BECAUSE OF MISS BRIDGERTON and loved all the various layers of the story. There is more to this book than just boy meets girl which just adds to the realism of the story. My one big complaint would probably be that BECAUSE OF MISS BRIDGERTON had to end as I hated to say goodbye to these characters. If you look slow burn stories with fun banter and shenanigans then look no further than this book. This story pretty much has it all and totally made my heart ache!! Oh the feels that it will make you feel!!

I hated to put BECAUSE OF MISS BRIDGERTON down and the moment I finished I was torn between reading it again or in restarting the original Bridgerton series. While I didn’t do either I do still plan to re-read the original Bridgerton books and fall in love with this family anew. BECAUSE OF MISS BRIDGETON is classic Julia Quinn and its sure to delight both new readers and old. I’m eager to see just where Quinn takes these Rokesby brothers next and I hate that I have to wait a whole year for the next book!! At least I’ll have George and Billie and their numerous nieces and nephews to keep me company until then.

irishdarkblue

IR - Because of Miss Bridgerton

 

Add Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas to Goodreads.

Add Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

 

four-stars
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Friday, July 8, 2016

Audio Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Narrator: Brandon Rubin, David LeDoux, Elizabeth Evans, Jay Snyder, Lauren Fortgang, Roger Clark, Tristan Morris
Series: Six of Crows,
Published by Brilliance Audio on 29 Sept 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Assassins, Death & Dying, Diseases, Emotions & Feelings, Epic Fantasy, Espionage, Friendship, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Mystery & Detective, People of Color, Politics & Intrigue, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Suspense, Witches & Wizards, Young Adult
Length: 15 hrs and 9 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Shadow & Bone, Summer Days and Summer Nights

Place(s) Traveled To: Ketterdam, Kerch // Dierholm, Fjerda

First Line(s): Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.

Narrators: Jay Snyder (Matthias), David LeDoux (Kaz), Brandon Rubin (Jesper), Lauren Fortgang (Inej), Roger Clark (Pekka), Elizabeth Evans (Nina), and Tristan Morris (Joost)

Confession time, although this won’t come as a surprise to some, but I did not like SHADOW & BONE (my review). It was such a struggle to get through and I just couldn’t be bothered with the other books in that series. So when I heard that Leigh Bardugo’s next series was also set in the Grisha universe I wasn’t sure if I would read SIX OF CROWS. But I was curious and so I kept sussing out what people thought about it and then when I was looking for a new audiobook it just up and stumbled into my basket. The SIX OF CROWS audio is a full cast recording and uses different narrators for each POV. I was intrigued by this and it wasn’t long before the story grabbed a hold of me in a way that SHADOW & BONE never did.

Curiosity

I’ll admit SIX OF CROWS did start a little slow but it wasn’t long before I was engrossed in the story. I loved how all the different narrators approached this story and the life that they gave to these characters. Each narrator really helped bring out the personality of the characters, not just the one of the POV they were acting out but all the characters that they voiced. It was interesting to see how the narrators saw the others in this motley crew and I never had any issues figuring out who was who. I also found it  very help to listen to the audio as I’m sure I’d have stumbled over many of the names and words used in this book.

Six of Crows Quote

At its heart SIX OF CROWS is a heist story and if you like a good heist story then you will like this book. There is intrigue and betrayal and a whole lot of shenanigans. But its also a story of friendship, of family, and of finding oneself despite all of the odds. Its a coming of age story and its even a love story on some levels. There really is something for everyone in SIX OF CROWS and its fast paced enough to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I know that I spent every free moment I could listening to this audio because once I became invested in this story I couldn’t stop listening. I just wanted to know more and when I hit the end I was bereft because it was over.

Another thing I like about SIX OF CROWS is that it has an ending. Oh there are still things that are left to be done and even a wee cliff hanger but you know were most of the players stand and you see the set up for things that will happen in CROOKED KINGDOM. But best of all, its not predictable. I have no idea where this story is going I just have my hopes and my fears on what Bardugo is going to go. SIX OF CROWS is an intricately woven story and I h ave no doubts that CROOKED KINGDOM is going to be the same. There are twists and turns around every corner and a whole lot of heartache and shenanigans ahead.

I did not expect to like SIX OF CROWS as much as I did. I wasn’t even sure that I would read it. But I am so very very glad that I did because I was so engrossed in this story. For me, its a whole different style and delivery than SHADOW & BONE. The characters have more depth and they are smart and feisty and while flawed they aren’t broken. Bardugo weaves in the history of the Grisha world and the backstorys of this crews expertly in the story that there are no slow info dump moments. SIX OF CROWS is definitely a story that can be read independently of SHADOW & BONE. So if you haven’t gotten around to reading that one yet, or if you are like me and you didn’t like it all that much I would say that you can easily pick this one up and know what is going on with the world and not be lost.

thumbs up

irishdarkblue

IR - Six of Crows

Add The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Heist Society by Ally Carter to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Review: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn BarnesThe Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Fixer, Book 2
Also in this series: The Fixer
Published by Bloomsbury on 07 Jun 2016
Genres: Abduction, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Mystery & Detective, Politics & Intrigue, Social Issues, Thrillers, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: The Fixer, The Naturals

Place(s) Traveled To: Washington, DC

First Line(s): “Tess, has anyone ever told you that you’re an absolute vision when you’re plotting something?” Asher Rhodes shot a lazy grin in my direction.

I don’t know about you dear reader but I was crazy excited to be able to get my hands on THE LONG GAME after finishing the wild ride that was THE FIXER!! There was an ending with THE FIXER but there were also just enough threads to leave this reader lusting for more and THE LONG GAME did not disappoint! THE LONG GAME picks up almost immediately after the events in THE FIXER end only the mysteries are bigger and the stakes higher and poor Tess may just be a tad bit over her head. Tess is still reeling from revelations that happened in THE FIXER and dealing the the consequences of that story so she really doesn’t need anything else going on. But trouble as a way of finding Tess and she just can’t let sleeping dogs lie. After all, who can be a normal teenager when your related to the biggest fixer in DC and go to one of the most elite schools in America?

I was totally sucked into this story right from page one and really hated to put it down for such mundane things as sleep or food. I just needed to see where Jennifer Lynn Barnes would take the story even as she broke my heart a time or two in the process. As I said above the stakes are higher in THE LONG GAME, lives are at stake and there is betrayal around every corner. The twists are twister and Barnes does an amazing job at keeping the reader guessing while not being so obtuse that the big reveal comes out of left field. THE LONG GAME is a crazy intense ride and its so hard to talk about without giving anything away.

One thing I really liked in THE LONG GAME is how Tess really comes into her own despite all the upheavals in her life. She is strong and smart and can take care of so much on her own but she always knows when things are above her and to ask for help. She may run head long into danger at times but she always makes sure that help is on the way. I also like how this series is not romance focused. Yes, there is a romance in the book but it sits more on the sidelines as THE LONG GAME is a straight up thriller. Its a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat while occasionally making you laugh and a few breaks in tension for a kiss or two.

I also really really really hope that this isn’t the end for this series because I would love to see more from Tess and the gang. Especially with some of the reveals that happened in THE LONG GAME. There are still threads that could be followed to bigger and crazier things. Although, I am not entirely sure that my heart could take more of the intensity that Barnes brings to this story. For me, THE LONG GAME was a total edge of my seat read and I count it as one of my top books of the year. You are really missing out on good crafty story telling if you haven’t picked up this series yet. There really aren’t words to describe how good it is just know that you won’t be disappointed if you pick up these books. If you are, then we can’t be friends. (kidding….maybe…gives you haters the stink eye)

intense

 

irishdarkblue IR - The Fixer

 

Add The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes to Goodreads. (click here for my review.)

Add Clarity by Kim Harrington to Goodreads. (click here for my review.)

Add Also Known As by Robin Benway to Goodreads. (click here for my review.)

five-stars
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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Audio Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: Winter by Marissa MeyerWinter by Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Series: Lunar Chronicles,
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest
Published by Macmillian Audio on 10 November 2015
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Death & Dying, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Friendship, Futuristic Romance, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Politics & Intrigue, Royalty, Sci-Fi, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, War & Military, Young Adult
Length: 23 hrs and 30 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Heartless

Place(s) Traveled To: Atemesia, Luna

First Line(s): Winter’s toes had become ice cubes.

Sometimes I wonder why I acquire a print version of a book because if I start a book (or book series) on audio then I typically like to finish in that format. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that despite my wonderful secret sister giving me a signed copy of WINTER by Marissa Meyer I ended up buying the audio version from audible. WINTER is a long book (824 pgs) and as such the audio seemed to take me forever to get through. For me, I think that WINTER could have done with another round or two of editing as there was a lot of repetition and things that just weren’t really relevant to the story at hand. The bulk of the story also took place over just two days so it just seemed overly drawn out.

I also think that WINTER suffered from too many POVs. I can see if it stuck to the main cast but there were many that were one off and to me that just comes across as lazy story telling. I love multiple perspectives to get a well rounded story, I hate a switch in POV just because it makes something a little easier to tell. My heart also wept for all the mangled science in this book. Oh my poor poor scientific heart and just when I’d become able to ignore (kind of) the antidote/vaccine issue too. But poor science aside, I do think that WINTER was a decent end to a series. There were many a heart achy (because emotions not bad science) that kept me invested in this story and the characters. I also adored Winter and Jacin and was glad to see things from their perspective this time around.

Winter Quote

 

I did have some issues with the narration as it seemed liked it was Rebecca Soler’s first time out of the gate and not the fourth book in a series. Soler would confuse voices that had been around since CINDER and the scene transitions were bad. Which made it difficult to follow along with the story. I often found myself hitting the rewind button to figure out what I’d miss and I’d also consult my physical copy (thank you secret sister!) just to verify what was going on when and who was the main POV at that time. I wouldn’t have thought that WINTER would have been a more polished audio than it was. And while I don’t entirely regret my choice to listen to this one over reading the print there were times I considered switching over before the book was done.

Now that the Lunar Chronicles is over I can say that I am glad that I read the series even if I didn’t fall head over heals in love with it. I do like Meyer’s take on all the different fairy tales and how she set them in a dystopian back drop. It was a fresh take on them and entertaining read. Though I will admit that Cinder wasn’t my favorite character of series and I lean more towards, Winter, Jacin, Cress and Thorne. Those are all characters that I would love to know more about and ones that I hope we’ll see in the anthology STARS ABOVE. Now I just need to find the time to read it and determine if I want to go print or audio. Oh, who am I kidding…I’ll most likely go audio.

irishdarkblue

 

IR - Cinder

 

Add Cinder by Marissa Meyer to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-half-stars
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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Me Before You by Jojo MoyesMe Before You by Jojo Moyes
Series: Me Before You,
Published by Viking Adult on 31 December 2012
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 481
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Stortfold, England // Mauritius // Zurich, Switzerland (2007, 2009)

First Line(s): There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren’t in a hurry, like maybe if you’re wearing platform shoes.

ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes is one of those books that I’d heard about but didn’t give much thought about until I saw previews for the movie version of it. I was intrigued by the previews and like many readers I decided to read the book before trying to see it. While I liked ME BEFORE YOU and found it to be a quick and emotional read the more I thought about it the more complex I felt about it. At first read, I really liked this book and the journey that Lou Clark takes in living the life that she was always meant to live. At the start of ME BEFORE YOU, Lou is stuck working dead end jobs in a small town in order to support her family. She’s shy and unassuming and completely miserable. It also doesn’t help that her family is absolutely retched to her.

Then Lou meets Will and her life changes in ways that she never thought possible. Will is a quadriplegic and is suffering from severe depression as he used to lead a very adventurous life.  When Lou first starts to work as a companion to Will their relationship is very strained but I loved watching them bother get to know each other and to grow and change from that interaction. But most of all I loved who Lou became through her association with Will. She grew into herself and became more confident and self assured and that is a message that I loved in ME BEFORE YOU. That its ok to be who you are. That you should live each day to its fullest and to always try to find wonder and adventure in even the smallest of things.

Me Before You Quote

But where ME BEFORE YOU leaves me feeling less that good is with the ending. Oh how I didn’t like how things went the way they did and it wasn’t an ending I was expecting. Well, I knew the what I just didn’t know the how and its the how that I didn’t care for. That is a message that we see all to often in books and media and its one that doesn’t paint the best of pictures. It was an easy out and one that definitely involved emotions but I don’t think that it was the right choice. There is more that I want to say on this but its hard without spoiling (well, any more than I’ve probably done) and its hard to find the right words for my thoughts.

I also didn’t like the random POV changes to Lou’s sister which only made me dislike Lou’s family more. I really wish that the entire story was told from Lou’s perspective and I wish that the ending had been a little different. If so, then I think that ME BEFORE YOU would have been a book that I was completely and utterly over the moon about. Instead I liked it, I’ll probably recommend it to some, but its not a book that I long to be able to read against for the first time. I am also on the fence on if I want to read the sequel, AFTER YOU. Its a book that has come up in my library queue but I keep tossing back and then putting back on my holds list.

I liked where Lou was at the end of ME BEFORE YOU despite all the heartbreak that she had gone through. In terms of how Lou thought about herself she was in a very good place. She was hopeful and ready to live the life she’d always dreamed about. I’m afraid that if I read AFTER YOU that will changed. Books need conflict in order to move forward after all so Lou can’t be happy in the way that I want her to be. So I may not read it. I may just keep Lou in that place where she is in my mind and continue her story in my own way.

irishdarkblue

IR - Me Before You

Add God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo to Goodreads.

Add P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern to Goodreads.

four-stars
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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review + Interview: Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Contest, Interview, Review1 Comment

Review + Interview: Bittersweet by Sarina BowenBittersweet by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North,
Also in this series: Steadfast
Published by Self-Published on 14 June 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 293
Format: eARC
Source: Publicist
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Tuxbury, Vermont // Boston, Massachusetts // Norwich, Vermont // Fairlee, Vermont

First Line(s): “Giffin?”

Regular readers to my blog will know that I am a big fan of Sarina Bowen’s work. I love her real and complex characters and the love stories that she tells. So I was very excited to be able to read BITTERSWEET which is the start of a new series and is set in Vermont. BITTERSWEET alternates POVs between Audrey, a flightly free spirit who is trying to find her place in the world, and Griff a gruff farmer who loves what he does and who doesn’t believe in happily ever afters. So its a good thing that he and Audrey collide because despite all that she’s been through she still finds rainbows on rainy days. Griff and Audrey’s relationship is a mix between opposites attract and a second chance at love because when Griff pulls Audrey’s car out of a ditch we learn its not the first time that they’ve met. Nor is it the first time that sparks have flown between them.

And boy do the sparks fly.

The chemistry between Griff and Audrey leaps off the page and I loved the tension and how well these two worked together. Their journey isn’t without its bumps in the road and both are wary about putting it all out on the line but I loved the entire thing. And best of all….there is no pointless break up!! Yes, there is drama and separation…this is a romance story after all. But the parting is a bittersweet one (see what I did there) as Audrey and Griff aren’t quite ready to admit that they are each others forever dream. Especially Audrey, who has worked so hard to find her place in a world that seems to always want to put her down. She comes from a privileged life but she isn’t quiet the personality that her mother was expecting. So, Audrey finds it especially hard to come to the conclusion that dreams can change and that the path you thought was solid may not be the right one for you.

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Bittersweet Quote

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Another thing that I loved about BITTERSWEET was the secondary cast. I almost loved them more than Griff and Audrey! Griff’s family is hilarious and fun and I loved what they brought to the page every time they made an appearance. Then there is Zara who is a little caustic but also who becomes a good friend to Audrey, which is something that they both really need. But one of my favorites was Zach. Oh sweet, adorable blushing Zach. He’s quiet and shy but he sees so much and what little we learn of his backstory in BITTERSWEET leaves me aching to know more. I desperately want him to find a happily ever after.

BITTERSWEET is a beautiful story with a good message and one that will make even the coldest readers heart ache. Its real and emotional and I was so glad that I brought this on a plane with me because it gave me hours of uninterrupted reading time. I was able to get lost in this world and I hated it when I hit the last page. I was even tempted to read the chapter sampler of STEADFAST and if you know me at all you know that I don’t read samplers!!  Thankfully though I won’t have long to wait as STEADFAST is expected to be released in July followed by KEEPSAKE in October. This is both good and bad. Good because I don’t have to wait three years to finish the series but bad because it means it won’t be long until I can’t experience this world for the first time again. *sighs* The reading life…its so hard.

But what isn’t hard is to fall in love with BITTERSWEET so go forth and buy your copy today!! If you like a good love story then this is one you won’t want to miss!! (Seriously….that orchard scene!! #swoon)

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irishdarkblue

Read chapter one of BITTERSWEEET here!!

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IR - Bittersweet

 

Add Accidentally Married on Purpose by Rachel Harris to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Tied to Trouble by Megan Erickson to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

 

Q&A

 

1. Describe yourself in one sentence.

I am a total goofball.

2. Can you describe your newest book, BITTERSWEET, in five words or less?

Hot grumpy farmer vs. chef.

3. What inspired you to write the TRUE NORTH series?

I always knew I’d write another book about Vermont, because it’s just such a cool place in the world. It’s rugged and sexy in a way that’s different from my hockey books.

4. Which character in the TRUE NORTH books was your favorite to write and why?

Audrey, because she never gives up, even when people try to convince her she’ll fail.

5. Which line do you find harder to write, the first or the last?

The last one. I hate last lines. Real life doesn’t have last lines, ergo they are tricky in fiction.

6. What’s the craziest/strangest thing you’ve googled (to date) in the name of research?

Oh boy. I’ve Googled some things that made me warn the family, “when the FBI comes to investigate, tell them it was for the novel.” How to buy a gun on the internet, etc.

7. What is your favorite Hard Cider to drink….and have you ever had one that tasted like the one that Griff and Audrey make together?

The ciders by Farnum Hill at Poverty Lane Orchard are awfully funky. 🙂 I like Champlain Orchards Cidery, too.

8. Without spoiling, what was your favorite scene to write in BITTERSWEET?

The cider tasting scene! I cracked myself right up there.

9. One thing I loved about BITTERSWEET was its celebration of local, farm fresh items and small businesses. What are some of your favorite products that you can only get when you are in Vermont?

There ARE a million awesome Vermont foods. Vermont Peanut Butter company makes a flavor called Good Karma that has dark chocolate in it. I love it desperately.

10. Any teases or hints you want to give about STEADFAST or KEEPSAKE? (AKA what I really want to know is will Zach get a story? Because I adored him!)

I will tell you that Zach is book #3 and that you haven’t met his heroine yet. But that’s all I’ll say!

Interesting

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Contest

 Enter to win an kindle, kobo, or nook copy of Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen.

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four-stars
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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: Prince’s Gambit by C.S. Pacat

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Prince’s Gambit by C.S. PacatPrince's Gambit by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince, Book 2
Also in this series: Captive Prince, Kings Rising
Published by Berkley Books on 07 July 2015
Genres: Abduction, Adult, Emotions & Feelings, Fantasy, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, People & Places, Politics & Intrigue, Road Trip, Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, War & Military
Pages: 404
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Captive Prince

Place(s) Traveled To: Chastillion, Vere // Fortain, Vere // Acquitart, Vere // Delpha, Akielos  // Ravenel, Vere // Marlas, Vere

First Line(s): The shadows were long with sunset when they rode up, and the horizon was red.

After finishing CAPTIVE PRINCE by C.S. Pacat (my review) I couldn’t get the story out of my head so had to get my hands on the second book in the series, PRINCE’S GAMBIT. PRINCE’S GAMBIT picks up right where CAPTIVE PRINCE ends and is filled with even more tension and political intrigue. It’s also in PRINCE’s GAMBIT where the romance between Laurent and Damen really starts to heat up. Though this series is still what I’d call a slow burn in the romance department. There are no grand declarations in this book but lots of forays into what is to come and of course drama and tension. But not crazy over the top drama or angst. Everything about PRINCE’S GAMBIT is real, raw and organic and I just couldn’t put this book down!! I loved the push and pull between Damen and Laurent as they worked together against the Regent and also worked toward forging a bond.

In CAPTIVE PRINCE, you learn that Laurent has essentially been on his own and had to keep his own council since the day that his father and older brother were killed. He doesn’t trust easily and there are still so many secrets between Laurent and Damen so you know that shit is about to get real before these two can find a happily ever after. As I mentioned about, the tension is off the hook in PRINCE’S GAMBIT and I just couldn’t stop turning the pages to see what would happen next. The political intrigue that is the baseline of the story really hits its stride as events that were started in CAPTIVE PRINCE start to unfold. Laurent, as usual, always seems to be several steps ahead of the rest and yet there are still some things that take him by surprise which makes for much edge of your seat reading.

Prince's Gambit Quote

I totally fell in love with this story and liked it even more than CAPTIVE PRINCE. I stayed up late to read it with my heart racing for much of the last half of the book. Not that this book has a ton of crazy action to it, because it doesn’t, but the political drama and of course the growing relationship between Laurent and Damen really sucks the reader in. Although, the super big fancy words that Pacat is so found of did distract a bit from the story. Using words like expostulation in place of protest just seemed so unnecessary and while I do hate when books are dumbed down there is such a thing as trying to hard to sound smart. I think that this series could have stood just as strong with words more commonly used than some of the word choices that Pacat makes.

Overall though, I loved PRINCE’S GAMBIT and found it even more compelling that CAPTIVE PRINCE. I was hooked from word one and am so glad that I decided to give this series a shot. Its such a heart achy read and has defied all of my expectations. Its so rare for a hyped up book to live up to the hype for me and this series is one of those few that make the cut. When I finished PRINCE’S GAMBIT I was DYING for KINGS RISING because I just couldn’t wait to see how the series ended. This is definitely one series where you’ll want to have access to all the books before starting because the cliff hangers between each are killer!!

 

irishdarkblue IR - Captive Prince

 

Add Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Important Note: Even though I compare CAPTIVE PRINCE to YA titles this is not a YA book and contains mature themes. This Irish Recommends is more for the adults who read YA and my blog.

four-stars
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